Predicting the Last 5 In, Last 5 out for the New Orleans Saints Final Roster
New Orleans Saints training camp begins on July 24, but it’s not too early to make predictions on who will make the team’s final 53-man roster.
After making numerous offseason personnel changes through free agency and the draft, the Saints brought in a host of undrafted rookies and other free agents to compete for roster spots.
The current New Orleans roster is filled out with 90 players, but that number will have to be trimmed down significantly by the start of the season. Competition in fall camp is sure to be intense, as there will be multiple cuts at most positions.
Coach Sean Payton's squad is expected to contend for the NFC South divisional title in 2014, and the Saints will have some tough roster decisions to make as Payton readies his club for the upcoming season.
Following is an early prediction on the last five Saints players to make the team’s final 53-man roster, along with the final five who will be cut.
In: Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver
At 6’6” and 225 pounds, former Rutgers standout Brandon Coleman possesses exceptional size for a wide receiver.
Built in the mold of current Saints starter Marques Colston, the undrafted rookie provides a massive target on the outside for 6’0” quarterback Drew Brees, and he should fit nicely into the Saints’ precision-based passing game.
His long arms allow him to go up and come down with the ball in traffic, and his size is more than ideal for that of an effective blocker on the outside.
The Saints already have a capable receiving corps, but it’s difficult to imagine Coleman, who averaged nearly 22 yards per catch in his three years at Rutgers, not making the team.
Out: Andy Tanner, Wide Receiver
After spending the majority of the past four seasons on the practice squad and the scout team, Andy Tanner is back again to compete for a roster spot in 2014.
The 26-year-old was named to New Orleans’ opening game roster against Atlanta last season, but he was declared inactive shortly thereafter.
Tanner is a hard-working player who’s always good for a couple of impressive plays in the preseason, but with newcomers such as Coleman and 2014 first-round draft pick Brandin Cooks in the fold, he’ll find it difficult to make the roster once again this season.
In: Trevin Wade, Cornerback
When starting cornerback Jabari Greer went down with a season-ending injury last October, the Saints signed Trevin Wade to the squad for depth purposes.
A seventh-round pick by Cleveland in 2012, he appeared in 13 games for the Browns that season. He was released during the preseason in 2013 before being picked up by the Saints. Wade appeared in two regular season games and two playoff contests last season and contributed on both defense and special teams.
The Saints released Greer this offseason, but they’ve since added free agent Champ Bailey and second-round draft pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste at the corner position.
With these new additions on board, as well as a host of other young corners, Wade will have to compete for a roster spot, but his experience should help him win out in the end.
Out: Terrence Frederick, Cornerback
Another former Cleveland Brown, Terrence Frederick is probably Wade’s chief competitor for a roster spot.
Frederick has a legitimate shot to make the Saints’ 53-man roster this fall, but with Wade, Bailey, and Jean-Baptiste in camp, in addition to veterans Corey White, Rod Sweeting and Patrick Robinson, he’s probably on the outside, looking in.
In: Kasim Edebali, Outside Linebacker
Undrafted free agent signee Kasim Edebali possesses huge upside, and he’s someone to keep an eye on in the coming years for the Saints.
A native of Germany, he was a member of the USA Football International Student Program, and he eventually earned a scholarship at Boston College. He had a successful collegiate career with the Eagles, racking up 9.5 sacks as a senior in 2013.
A natural pass-rusher, Edebali demonstrates impressive quickness off the line of scrimmage. He’s also a solid tackler, and he’s a heady player who pursues relentlessly from sideline to sideline.
He has the potential to excel in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s aggressive 3-4 scheme, and he’ll certainly be a player to follow this coming preseason.
Out: Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Outside Linebacker
Chidera Uzo-Diribe was also signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason, and he’ll be in direct competition with Edebali, third-year veteran Cheta Ozougwu and 2014 fifth-round draft choice Ronald Powell for a roster spot.
He started for two seasons as a defensive end at Colorado, but he’s more naturally suited to play in a 3-4 scheme as a pass-rushing outside ‘backer. He recorded four sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2013, after registering seven sacks the previous season.
Uzo-Diribe has an outside shot to make the Saints’ final roster this season, but he’ll most likely be named to the practice squad for at least a year.
In: Marcel Jones, Offensive Tackle
The Saints selected offensive tackle Marcel Jones with their seventh-round draft choice in 2012 but an unfortunate knee injury sidelined him for his entire rookie season.
He returned in 2013 but was released just before the start of last season. After spending a year on the practice squad, the 6’7”, 320-pounder will compete for a roster spot again in 2014.
This time around, he’s fully healthy, and even though New Orleans selected another tackle (Tavon Rooks) with their final pick in the 2014 draft, Jones should be able to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
He’s extremely athletic for a player of his size, and he possesses the long arms and quick feet necessary to play tackle in the NFL.
Out: Seantavius Jones, Wide Receiver
Seantavius Jones is another athletic, physically imposing rookie wideout, and he could be a player that makes some serious noise in New Orleans down the road.
For now, however, he appears to be buried on a crowded wide receiver depth chart, and it’s unlikely that he and the aforementioned Brandon Coleman will both beat out such established receivers as Joseph Morgan or Robert Meachem for a roster spot.
He doesn’t have Coleman’s size, but at 6’3” and 200 pounds, he has excellent measurables for an NFL possession receiver. He enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at Division II Valdosta State, where he scored 26 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
After honing his game for a year on the practice squad, Jones will be a favorite to earn a roster spot for the Saints in 2015.
In: George Uko, Defensive End
Another undrafted rookie, George Uko is in a favorable situation as far as depth at the defensive end spot. The Saints aren't particularly deep at the position, and he has a good chance to make the final roster.
The former USC standout is a versatile lineman, having played both end and tackle at the collegiate level. He displayed exceptional leverage throughout his career, and he also uses his hands well.
If Uko can beat out Lawrence Virgil, another undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State, in fall camp, then he could secure a spot on the Saints’ 53-man squad.
Out: Tim Flanders, Running Back
Rookie running back Tim Flanders has an impressive skill set, but like wideout Seantavius Jones, he’ll probably fall victim to a crowded depth chart at his position and end up on the practice squad.
New Orleans already has Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson in the backfield, and return man Travaris Cadet will provide the Saints with a full stable of running backs on Sundays this fall.
An accomplished runner and receiver, Flanders ended his career at Sam Houston State as the Southland Conference’s all-time leader in both rushing and scoring.
He’s a long shot to make the 53-man squad to start the season, but if any of the Saints’ veteran backs go down with an injury, he’ll likely be added to the active roster.